3 Surprising Mental Benefits of Exercise
Common reasons people choose to exercise are to lose weight, build muscle, or improve their health; but did you know that a major motivator can be to improve academic performance? The mental benefits of exercise may not be as well-known as the physical ones, but they are no less important or impactful.
For students restricted to a classroom during the day and for working adults confined to an office, physical activity can be hard to achieve. This can easily explain the afternoon slumps and mental blocks that students and professionals alike both hit at certain times of the day. With exercising helping to boost brain power, determining an appropriate time of day to commit to exercising is of paramount importance to academic or career success.
You Increase Focus and Creativity
You may assume that after exercising you would feel exhausted, but numerous studies have shown that exercise and physical activity improve concentration. Whether it be kids playing at recess or getting out for a mid-day walk, those who participate in exercise are better focused and even more creative in their work. In fact, many famous authors including Henry David Thoreau and Thomas Mann were known to always go for a walk before beginning to write.
“Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.” –Henry Thoreau
You Get Blissfully Happy
Food therapy is a well-loved approach to beating the blues. We have a bad day, and we immediately reach for what are commonly known as “comfort foods.” Rather than doing this, though, we should shift our mindsets and retrain our bodies to crave exercise during these times instead. Working out or engaging in physical activities releases chemicals called endorphins which boost moods and create feelings of happiness. Exercise is even a proven therapy for those suffering from depression and anxiety. At the end of the day, exercise not only elevates your emotions, it also eases stress, relaxes your mind, and improves sleep.
“If you are in a bad mood, go for a walk. If you are still in a bad mood, go for another walk.” –Hippocrates
You Boost Your Brain
A study released earlier this year proved that older adults who exercised showed better cognitive function, including memory and motor skills. This reinforces the fact that physical activity helps to release growth factors in the brain which improve brain health and preserve new brain cell survival, even in senior citizens. Bottom line is that memory, thinking, cortexes, and lobes—all are drastically improved and functionality well-maintained over time in those who exercise over those who do not.
“We do not stop exercising because we grow old—we grow old because we stop exercising.” –Dr. Kenneth Cooper
With the mental benefits of exercise being clearly evident in all of us, from the youngest to the oldest, it is so very important that we train our children in these habits when they are young. By teaching them through our own example, they will reap the physical and mental rewards throughout their entire lifetime. Not to mention, they will likely teach you a thing or two along the way!
Letise Dennis is a writer for Learning Liftoff. She has enjoyed writing since childhood, but has spent her most recent professional years writing website content and articles relating to her passion of fitness and nutrition. Having grown up in the south, she attended George Mason University and earned a degree in Communication, with a focus on interpersonal and business communication. After graduation, she began her career at a national nonprofit organization and has been living in Northern Virginia since. When not writing for Learning Liftoff, she spends her time with her husband and three kids enjoying sports and the outdoors.